Indigenous men­tal health given boost

Pilbara News - - Pilbara Education - Louise Alling­ham

There will soon be a rise in Abo­rig­i­nal men­tal health work­ers af­ter Curtin Univer­sity in­tro­duced an Indigenous Clin­i­cal Men­tal Health Prac­ti­tioner de­gree this year.

The course is open to Abo­rig­i­nal stu­dents to ed­u­cate and sup­port them in be­com­ing reg­is­tered men­tal health prac­ti­tion­ers spe­cial­is­ing in indigenous clin­i­cal men­tal health. Ru­ral Health West gen­eral man­ager for work­force Kelli Porter said an in­crease in indigenous health work­ers would be valu­able in re­gional ar­eas.

“The Abo­rig­i­nal health worker is a highly val­ued mem­ber of the Abo­rig­i­nal Med­i­cal Ser­vice team and this new de­gree will en­sure stu­dents have the skills and knowl­edge to treat indigenous pop­u­la­tions liv­ing in re­mote Western Aus­tralia,” she said.

“Hav­ing lo­cal ac­cess to cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate men­tal health ser­vices is ben­e­fi­cial for ru­ral pa­tients as it pre­vents them from hav­ing to travel long dis­tances to at­tend ap­point­ments.” The course aims to pre­pare stu­dents to treat and care for indigenous peo­ple with men­tal ill­nesses through as­sess­ments and prac­ti­cal place­ments.

Curtin’s Cen­tre for Abo­rig­i­nal Stud­ies As­so­ciate Lec­turer Tr­ish Hill-Wall said the course may be the first of its kind in the coun­try and is an “em­pow­er­ing op­por­tu­nity” for Abo­rig­i­nal stu­dents.

“They have the op­por­tu­nity to learn about the be­havioural sci­ence of the dis­or­der, treat­ment and the re­cov­ery process of pa­tients with men­tal ill­nesses,” she said.

“It is im­por­tant for the Indigenous Clin­i­cal Men­tal Health Prac­ti­tioner stu­dents to sup­port indigenous peo­ple in a proac­tive man­ner and the course of­fers prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions in line with the best care and treat­ment prac­tices un­der the Men­tal Health Act 2014.”

The course is avail­able to peo­ple of indigenous or Tor­res Strait Is­lander de­scent and will be open to 10 non-indigenous stu­dents a year.

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